Updated Fri, Sep 27, 2013 10:23 am
Last week, the Ohio University Marching 110 spent days preparing to play the catchy summer hit song “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke for the halftime show during the OU football game against Austin Peay on Saturday. After days of practicing the music and then learning the choreography Thursday, it was decided on Friday that the band would not play the tune due to concerns from some in the university community.
The song has been a hot topic across the globe since its release, with some saying the lyrics are sexist and promote rape. However, some are arguing that OU’s decision to not play the song is censorship and pointed out that the band simply plays the score of the song — not the controversial lyrics.
According to a statement provided by Ohio University spokeswoman Katie Quaranta, Ricky Suk, director of the Marching 110, Chris Hayes, director of the School of Music, Ryan Lombardi, vice president for Student Affairs, and Margaret Kennedy-Dygas, the dean of the College of Fine Arts, met on Friday afternoon following Dr. Suk's receipt of negative feedback about the song from the campus community.
“During the course of the discussion, it was shared with (Suk) the greater context of issues that are occurring and the conversations that students are having with students on our campus about sexual violence, respect and sexism,” the statement said. “Dr. Suk was unaware of these issues and of the broader national conversation that the song was provoking. He shared that if he was being asked to not play the song, then he would remove it from the playlist. A consensus was reached to not perform ‘Blurred Lines.’ We expect that this is an isolated incident and there is no interest or push on the institution’s part in censoring art at Ohio University. That is counter to our core values and respected freedoms at Ohio University.”
With "Blurred Lines" pulled from the performance, the band again played "The Fox," which they performed during the halftime show on the Sept. 14 home game against Marshall. "The Fox" is a music video that was shot as a promotion for Ylvis' television show in Norway, which went viral on the Internet with more than 57.7 million views. A video of the 110's Sept. 14 performance of the Norwegian hit has already garnered more than 1.3 million views on YouTube.
Alana Newberry, a Marching 110 alum, current manager for the band and admitted rape victim, said she finds the decision to pull "Blurred Lines" the day before the performance wrong.
“I know people were saying that their problem with it is that it can be a trigger and stressful to people who have been raped. The problem with that is that that can apply to anything. I used to have panic attacks over people with a certain color of eyes. The world can't be bubble wrapped,” Newberry told The Messenger.
She said the way some who were offended by the song approached the issue was wrong in her opinion. She said the conversations surrounding the university’s decision to pull the performance have mostly focused around censorship, not the “blurred lines” of sexual consent.
Newberry said she is highly against censorship.
“And along those lines, the problem they have is with the lyrics, which clearly weren't part of the show. We weren't singing the song. It was going to be instruments playing rhythms. They ruined a lot of hard work for over 200 people. I think this whole thing could have been handled a lot better,” she said.
As a rape victim, Newberry said she doesn’t need to be protected.
“I'm an adult and I'll do what I need to do to feel comfortable and safe. If I knew they were going to play a song that I had a problem with I simply wouldn't show up,” she said.
Newberry added, “Songs can be interpreted a hundred different ways as well. The song never sounded ‘rapey’ to me. It's a stupid song about getting drunk and hitting on girls to me. It's not different than any other song out there right now.”
The Messenger asked its Facebook followers what they thought about the issue.
“It's a catchy tune, but the song (and video) are demeaning to women and men,” wrote Mark McCutchan. “It was the band's bad call to play it, and I'm sure the OU admin was taking some heat for allowing it. The band director needs to do a little more research next time the song selection process starts.”
Kelly Bentley Perkins posted, “Play it. Catchy tune. Isn't like (they’re) singing it. Next they will tell them what (they’re) allowed to eat!”
“It's music ... They should play whatever the band director thinks is best for the band. The decision shouldn't be made on an administrative level,” wrote Jenny Campbell.
Sarah Boumphrey commented, “The 110 always does a great job of choosing and arranging current pop music, and should play what they want. The audience always loves to hear a marching band's rendition of a song that is currently being played on dance floors.” Boumphrey added that she doesn’t find “Blurred Lines” any more denigrating to women than any other pop song, including ones written and performed by women.
“Some people seem to think that the song promotes rape culture, but looking at the lyrics, I can't see why,” she wrote.
Boumphrey pointed out that Robin Thicke is addressing a woman in a club who is showing mutual interest in him.
“He's trying to convince her to give up her current man, lamenting that he ‘tried to domesticate you,’ and reminding the woman that ‘that man is not your maker,’” she wrote. “Sounds a bit feminist to me, and certainly a lot more feminist than some of the songs that female artists are singing, in which they bully other women for various reasons. The main reason appearing to be because the woman is currently dating the man the bully wants to date.”
She concluded, “It's a fun song. End of story.”